Jason, Alice, Matt, Charlie, and the new pack member are standing on my front porch when I open the door. Davis is behind me, shirtless and ready to go, but by the look on Jason's face I can tell that something is bothering him.
Alice's candy perfume wafts up into my sensitive nose and I growl. She smiles innocently before brushing away her black hair from her forehead. Her violet eyes are mischievous as I step aside and let them in. Matt's blond hair is spiked up like he always wears it on the nights that we go out for our runs, and the new werewolf is dressed all in black, her eyes highlighted by piercing black eye-liner. I eye Jason as he walks in quietly behind the others, thrusting my chin towards the new wolf. He rolls his eyes and smiles faintly.
"Oh god," Davis covers his nose. "Alice, really?"
"Is it a crime to smell delicious?" Alice asks innocently, sitting beside Matt on one of our leather couches.
"Delicious is a hamburger on a summer day, your perfume is all kinds of nasty for my nose," Davis has always been the type to voice what I'm far too shy to say. He has the wonderful "foot-in-the-mouth" syndrome that I luckily didn't get.
"I like it baby," Matt says in a sultry voice. "I think it makes you smell like a yummy lollipop."
I smile faintly and pull Jason by his denim jacket towards our large kitchen. He smells faintly of his cinnamon body wash and Axe deodorant. His hair is pulled back into a short ponytail and his hands are unnaturally fidgety. "What's up?" I say, turning the tap on so I can finish up the remaining dinner dishes before going out.
"I've been looking into the new guy's background," Jason says and I feel him watching me swiftly and gently placing the clean dishes on the drying rack.
"His name is Sean," I correct him automatically.
"Right," Jason pauses for a moment before continuing. "Well, Sean doesn't seem to really have any background issues. He was admitted into NPS for his grades, which is very rare, but I can't find any notable things about his life prior to coming to our school."
"So, then he's a bigger mystery than we thought?"
"Exactly," Jason waits, still fidgeting slightly as I turn off the tap and dry my hands.
"Are you good for tonight?"
"Are you kidding me?" He smiles nervously. "I need this."
"Okay," I say, signalling to the living room. "Do they know anything?"
Jason shakes his head before staring at me thoughtfully. "It's going to be the first snowfall tonight."
"I know," I smile before heading back to the others, "I can smell it in the air."
Our first goal tonight is to see how long the new girl, Emily Smith, takes to shift. After watching her groan in pain for five minutes the familiar crunching of bones and tearing of skin, similar to the shredding of old sweaters and t-shirts, begins to resound off the tall trees around us. Her black hair grows shorter as her body morphs into a sleek, whimpering, black wolf. Her hazel eyes look up at us curiously.
"Okay," I nod sternly at the others. "Let's go."
The shift is quick for the rest of us, since we've had years to practice, and soon I am in my wolf form. Almost instantly I can smell the others around me. The scent of candy is more prominent now and Jason's signature cinnamon scent marks him as the pack leader. Matt smells like his hair gel and his scent intermingles with Alice's as he nuzzles her neck. Davis smells like the Doritos he had after dinner and the scent of cheese oozes up out of his fur.
Colour is not vivid in wolf form, but all my other senses are heightened. Like the ability to hear the tiny squirrels preparing for the snow fall tonight, or even the smell of the flakes forming high above us in the heavy, grey clouds.
Jason in his dark brown wolf form gives us a stern look. His brown eyes pierce through all of us and suddenly he is off, running through the gaps in the trees and jumping easily over the dirt mounts and hidden tree roots. I love the feel of the cold air as it rushes through my fur. It seeps into my excitement and makes me want to go faster.
Soon I am beside Jason and with a quick look at me, he dashes further ahead. It's been like this since I can remember. Jason running and me trying to catch up. So far he has always reached our destination first, a hidden circle of trees in the centre of the woods. At first, I was afraid of these late night runs. Fearful of hunters or other supernatural beings finding us, but Jason had stressed that I had nothing to worry about--that we were, are, safe.
The snow is already falling by the time we reach our spot. Other packs have already gathered there, friendly packs, but they are all staring at something just over the large hill behind the trees. I look back at my pack and at Jason, trying to ask them what is so interesting when a loud howl fills the snowy sky. I look towards the hill and see a large, white wolf.
I've seen grey, brown, black, even slightly orange wolves before, but I'd never seen a white wolf like this. At least, not in Diente. Mom had told me legends of the great white protector soon after I'd turned for the first time. But I never thought that he or she was real. Around me everyone starts to howl and I can feel the magical pull; the need to show my loyalty. I go down on the cold ground and half stand half bend in an awkward kneel and begin howling at our alleged protector.